- Movie Rating -

Yes, Giorgio (1982)

| September 24, 1982

Yes, Giorgio isn’t a movie that you watch as much as you behold with slack-jawed horror.  It’s a colossal disaster made by very talented people who must have seen the handwriting on the wall.  I mean, when you finally rope the great Luciano Pavarotti into his first feature film and then have him sit on a pie you have to know that you’re whipping up a recipe for disaster.  The exchange that did it for me was this one between Pavarotti’s character and his potential lover:

Giorgio Fini: Pamela, you are a thirsty plant.  Fini can water you.
Pamela: I don’t want to be watered on by Fini.

Who didn’t hear this?  Who thought that this was romantic banter that wouldn’t draw bad laughs?  What brought Norman Steinberg, an author on Blazing Saddles, to imagine that this like wouldn’t draw gasps from a paying audience?

The whole movie asks that question but you find very little answers.  I can imagine that the filmmakers thought that they were making a light and frothy Italian comedy, the kind they use to make in the 60s, like Divorce, Italian Style or Fantozzi but the movie is so light and so frothy that it floats right off the screen.

Pavarotti is a famous opera singer named Giorgio Fini who, in the beginning of the film, is exiting his Italian hometown for a tour of America.  It’s a cute scene.  Fini rides in his limo while his adoring fans line the streets to see him off.  Once in Boston, he gets a call to perform at The Met but he has such bad memories of a disastrous performance there that it scares his voice into silence. Oh No!  He can’t speak – he can’t sing.  His entourage panics.

Into his dilemma comes Dr. Pamela Taylor (Kathryn Herrold) whom the backward-thinking Fini dismisses because she’s a woman.  She diagnoses his condition as psychological and uses the same tactics on the legendary opera singer that she would on a child – she tricks him into getting better.

Naturally, he falls in love with her, this despite this wife and two children back home.  This creates a problem for them and for us.  Are they falling in love, or are they falling into a fling.  The movie never really deals with that so we’re not sure where exactly to go.  Yes, they have a whirl-wind romance but you’re always acutely aware of the ball and chain that is keeping them apart.  There the movie ends make you want to throw your popcorn at the screen. Yes, it has an unhappy ending, but then again, it has an unhappy everything.

There are mysterious decisions here that you can’t really unravel.  We know that Pavarotti is a plus-sized man. So, why do the filmmakers go to extremes to show him in close-ups and half shots and behind props?  I could count on half-a-hand the number of full-figured shots of the man that are included in this movie, in spite of the countless fat jokes that are thrown his way.  What were they afraid of?  Maybe they thought it was better if he were heard but not seen.  Then again, if that was the case, why did we need a scene where he sings “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in a piano bar.  This movie doesn’t know whether it is coming or going.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy